Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha MP Neiphiu Rio, not Naga People’s Front (NPF) president Shurhozelie Liezietsu, may replace TR Zeliang as the chief minister.
Liezietsu’s camp has been in a fix after more than 40 MLAs, including independents, in the 60-member assembly sneaked out of Nagaland capital Kohima late Friday night to be lodged in a resort close to Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
The resort is said to be in Borgoch and may not be as grand as the Golden Bay Resort near Chennai where AIADMK leader V K Sasikala had huddled over 120 MLAs.
An NPF leader, seeking anonymity, attributed the sudden development to the BJP’s plan to make Rio the chief minister.
Rio, who quit as chief minister to contest the Lok Sabha poll in 2014 and won it, had made Zeliang his successor. But differences between the two cropped up as Rio, denied a berth in the Narendra Modi government, was trying to take over the reins in the state again.
Rio allegedly seized the opportunity after the row over women’s quota in the cancelled civic body polls made tribal organisations demand Zeliang’s resignation.
Zeliang is in Delhi since Thursday after NPF legislators, in a meeting the previous night, backed the 81-year-old Liezietsu as their next chief minister. There were 42 MLAs in that meeting, 33 of them from NPF.
“The BJP helped Zeliang and Rio patch up in Delhi for the latter to take over as chief minister,” the NPF leader said.
Nagaland governor PB Acharya was also in Delhi on Thursday, though NPF said it was coincidental that his travel plan matched with that of the chief minister.
Despite Acharya’s absence, the DAN Legislature Party—BJP and NPF formed the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN)—had on Friday submitted a letter to the Raj Bhavan in Kohima assuring MLAs’ support to Liezietsu.
Acharya, Zeliang and Rio are scheduled to reach Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub, on Saturday afternoon.
In Tamil Nadu, more than 120 MLAs were huddled off to a resort outside Chennai earlier this month as acting chief minister O Panneerselvam revolted against AIADMK general secretary Sasikala, who was set to take over from him.
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